ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Businesses that rely on the State Fair and Balloon Fiesta for revenue are trying to figure out their future. Rex’s Hamburgers serves up their famous green chile burgers and milkshakes at their quirky restaurant on Montgomery, but this time of year, customers are used to seeing them outside the restaurant.
“Without the outside events that we normally do, you see we’re not doing them at all,” said Rex Thompson, owner of Rex’s Hamburgers. “Everything from feeding the Lobo football team and baseball team to Gay Pride, Fourth of July, car show at the fairgrounds and we also do the State Fair and Fiesta. This would’ve been our 50th year at the fair and probably #25 at the Fiesta.”
Rex often competes at the State Fair with weird and fun foods like the chocolate chip green chile cheeseburger and a deep fried carne adovada calzone. However, with the fair and Balloon Fiesta canceled, this September is a new one for the Thompson family.
“This is the first September in 49 years that I’ve not been on the fairgrounds,” said Thompson. “I started out there when I was 11, so you can do the math from there. Still in grade school, helping my dad every weekend, all through high school, college.”
The events bring in nearly half of the year’s income. It’s money, Thompson says, they’ll never get back.
“It helps out for the whole year. It really, truly does,” said Thompson. “It helps in everything, from paying the rent to just the gross revenue coming in.”
Customer Tammy Bellson says her favorite item on the menu is Rex’s green chile cheeseburger. She hopes regular customers at the Fiesta and fair continue to stop by to help the business out.
“They drew up a crowd. There was a crowd,” said Bellson, remembering past years at the events. “I think the burgers are excellent. We would do anything to help support.”
Thompson says even if they can fill the restaurant with customers, it’s still not enough to make up that loss. Still, they plan to move forward the best they can.
“Moving forward, it’s going to make it really tough and decisions have to be made,” said Thompson. “A lot of what you want to call mom-and-pop operations, a lot of smaller ones are really taking a hard look at do we stay or do we go, can we stay or do we have to go.”
Rex’s Hamburgers is located at 5555 Montgomery Blvd in Albuquerque. They’re open seven days a week and offer dine-in, takeout and delivery.